Rosicrucian Writings Online


Music --- For The Mystic

HOW IT MAY BE FULLY APPRECIATED
 
By Frater Eric F. Hawley, B. Sc.
 
[From The Rosicrucian Digest October 1935]
   
 
AS I SAT today and allowed my soul to become saturated by the glorious tone-colors of a magnificent symphony of Cesare Franck, brought to me in my own home by radio, and interpreted with superb artistry by one of the world's greatest orchestras, I wondered how many of my Brothers and Sisters were fully conscious of the power of such music to give us real assistance along the path which we are travelling. How many times have we all heard the phrase, "I don't like classical music"? And cannot many of us who now are beginning to appreciate the mighty thoughts of the great masters of music remember the time in our own lives when we preferred something "with a tune to it"? But as each of us continues patiently trying to accomplish the Great Work in his own life there comes to him moments when, by special attunement, he is privileged to contact the thoughts of master minds and evolved souls far ahead on the path of realization. Such moments are treasured long in our memories. Do we realize fully, I wonder, that the inspirational ideas of a Beethoven, or a Bach, are reproduced for us daily, after the lapse of centuries, through the medium of their immortal music? Even to such men the message of their own music may not have been very clear--though we do well to remember that many of them were Rosicrucians--but to the soul within every man its full significance is always perfectly apparent.
 
So my purpose in writing this little article is to try to indicate how we may so attune ourselves as to be able to absorb the inspired messages contained in great music and make them so much a part of ourselves that they continue to express in our daily lives long after the orchestral strings are silent. In the busy lives of most of us there is no time to study musical harmony, composition, and kindred subjects which might aid us in our efforts to interpret the meaning of musical compositions. But there is always time for us to listen to good music. Never, in fact, within the chronicled ages of written history, has music, good, bad, and indifferent, been so plentiful and so much with us as it is today. Not only that, dear Brothers and Sisters, but has it occurred to you that at the time, in Europe, when much of the world's greatest music was written the tremendous orchestras of our own day were unknown. One of my good friends, a German gentleman who has travelled much in Europe, recently expressed the idea to me in this way: "I like to listen to music here better than I did at home. In Germany we write the best music but we cannot play it so well as you do in America because we have not the money to gather together the wonderful orchestras that you have here. That is why I say America has the best music in the world." So, being most bountifully supplied with one of God's richest gifts, let us seek to understand how we may best appreciate it, and so do honor to the Giver.
 
Let us first understand that music is primarily the language of the emotions. When we are intensely happy do we not feel the urge to "make a joyful noise"? When our souls are filled with love or sorrow, how impossible we find it to express our feelings in mere words. Even the poet finds himself sometimes at a loss. As student Rosicrucians we are ever seeking to sort out our emotions, to intensify those that are constructive and to eliminate those which are detrimental to our progress. Our aim is the fullest possible expression of Light, Life and Love. Music speaks to the soul of love, in terms which only the soul can fully comprehend. It speaks also of joy, peace, and highest endeavor. Therefore, when we listen to great masterpieces it would be futile for us to try to interpret their message to our minds in words. To our minds music may sometimes bring pictures, for art and music are closely allied, but its real message is to the soul, the highest there is in us, and it is here that it can best assist us in our spiritual unfoldment.
 
Therefore, when we seek to refresh our souls through the medium of some grand musical composition, let us first make sure that it is music of a type worthy to be admitted to the inmost sanctuary of our being. Then, as in all other cases when we seek to make contact with the Divine Spark within us, let both body and mind become as quiescent as possible. Sit comfortably and relax. Close your eyes in order to shut out all extraneous visual impressions. As the music begins do not try to listen to it but just let it flow towards you in a glorious flood. Allow it to infuse your whole being and reproduce upon the sensitive keyboard of your own personality all the grand emotions of its originator. Soon you will find yourself carried along upon a tide of ecstatic enjoyment to a fairy world where you are constantly aware of a rapid succession of new and joyous feelings and you have forgotten that you are listening to sounds produced by men and instruments. Great gusts of glorious passion will sweep over you; thrills of joy or pain will course through your being; and as the music mounts to some tempestuous climax you will find yourself holding your breath for very excitement and wondering what new thrill is coming next.
 
When the music subsides and you awake from the dream, you will be amazed at the feeling of peace and refreshment which it has left with you. Sometimes you may find your nerves all atingle, as after doing some of the exercises set forth in our monographs. I have often felt a glow in the center of my forehead, the significance of which is well-known to many of our members. These effects are quite sufficient evidence of the benefits received, but they are not the only ones. It has been well said that the soul should have its musical bath as regularly as we cleanse the body. The influence is real and lasting. The sordid emotions of everyday life are displaced by the pure and noble ideals expressed by great music; and the harmony established between ourselves and the universe finds its expression in making life more worth living.
 
After one such experience no one will ever say again, "I don't like classical music," nor will he have anything but the deepest reverence for all good music. I am afraid I fail to understand those who can sit and converse or read a book while a high-class musical entertainment is in progress, and afterwards express their appreciation in such words as, "Oh, yes, it was very pretty."
 
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Webmaster's Note:  A 1939 recording of Franck's Symphony in D Minor, performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Artur Rodzinski, may be downloaded from the Internet Archive (external link).
  

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